For my final major project, I decided to explore the intersection of storytelling, cinematography and interactive design. Interactive movies have a long story since the first was released in 1967 (Kinoautomat by Radúz Činčera) and with today’s technological possibilities it is getting even further and becoming more accessible, thus more widespread.

That is why the Sam Barlow’s game Her Story is of particular interest to me.  This game is a great example of an unusual non-linear narrative. Right from the very beginning, it immerses you in its own atmosphere. There is no direct instructions, just the interface of an old-school PC desktop with the open window with the access to the database. Since the PC interface is very familiar to everyone, you immediately start to explore the system, where you find two files with the basic introduction to the plot and instructions on how to use the system. Special attention paid to the details, such as the background sound of buzzing lamps and glares on the screen, which creates the feeling that you actually sitting in a police station in front of the detective’s PC.

Music deserves a particular mention, as it is very subtle and changes according to the mood of the video which was played last. It made in such a masterful manner that you do not even notice that, but getting more and more engaged with the story.

You can see only short videos based on the keywords you have entered, so you literally have to build the story from the pieces looking for the clues, like an actual detective. If you could see the videos one after another in the correct time order it would not be so immersive.

Playing this game you are constantly in doubt as every additional video gives you the clues which are confusing and add new perspectives, so you keep coming up with new theories of has happened.

Also, I like that there are no videos of interviewer’s questions, so you have to figure out what was the question from the context of the answer. This makes you empathize the suspect and makes the overall experience more interesting.

So it is a perfect combination of nicely written plot and the way of interactive narration.

Cover image:
https://www.gog.com/game/her_story